Leadership for Syria

Perspectives on rebuilding Syria: final phase of the University of Konstanz’s socio-political accompanying programme

Educating the future leaders of Syria: The “Leadership for Syria” programme coordinated by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) offers Syrian students and doctoral researchers a chance to continue their education at a German university in order to prepare for the future task of rebuilding Syria. The University of Konstanz hosts the socio-political accompanying programme, which is led by Professor Wolfgang Seibel and organised by the Academy for Advanced Studies at the University of Konstanz (AWW). The programme enters its final phase in the last week of July 2017: during the first two stages, the main focus was laid on promoting a democratic understanding of society and on discussing sustainable economic policies. The third and final part of the programme, which takes place from 28 until 30 July 2017, deals with the personal challenges that the approximately 200 Syrian participants are likely to face.

“These young people have the potential to rebuild Syria once the war is over. In order to be able to participate in the political debates that must inevitably ensue, it is vitally important that they use their studies in Germany to hone their powers of judgement. It is the only way to promote a society that is open, tolerant and welcoming of participation”, says DAAD president Professor Margret Wintermantel.

Wolfgang Seibel continues: “For us as lecturers it has been a tremendous challenge and joy to work alongside these young Syrians”, adding: “I cannot think of a more profoundly sensible and sustainable idea than educating the future leaders of a peaceful Syria. We hope that the federal government will recognise the programme’s potential in this regard and approve its continuation in a more permanent form”.

The socio-political accompanying programme combines e-learning techniques and three on-campus learning units. The coaching sessions and workshops offered during the third and final phase are wholly dedicated to the practical and personal challenges the participants are likely to face when going about the business of rebuilding their country. It is immensely important to Wolfgang Seibel’s team from the University of Konstanz to impart both structural and personal perspectives. Dr Ulrich Wacker, managing director of the Academy for Advanced Studies at the University of Konstanz, explains: “The scholarship recipients were recruited from a wide range of disciplines. I am convinced that continuing their academic education is the best possible strategy to increase their awareness of social, political and economic fields of action that require a transfer-oriented approach. For these young people, it will not be enough to be good at their jobs. They will have to excel at an existential task that is of monumental importance to the future of Syria”.

The electronic courses (e-learning) offered as part of the programme were developed in close collaboration with the Center for Technology-Enhanced Learning (ZML) at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). “The particular combination of on-campus and e-learning units that we are able to offer allows for the most wonderful combination of our lecturers’ scientific expertise and the input of the participating master’s students and doctoral researchers”, Daniel Weichsel, managing director of the ZML, emphasises. “The programme promotes targeted and sustainable networking activities that can prove immensely useful to those among the scholarship recipients whose professional careers have been shaped by on-going conflicts in their home countries”.

18 lecturers from the University of Konstanz are involved in the socio-political accompanying programme. Among the speakers is Peter Gottwald, a University of Konstanz graduate and retired ambassador who spent part of his diplomatic career in international negotiations on arms control.


  • Third and final phase of the socio-political accompanying programme hosted by the University of Konstanz in connection with “Leadership for Syria”, taking place from 28-30 July 2017.
  • The “Leadership for Syria” programme is funded to the tune of 10.2 million euros by the Federal Foreign Office, an additional 1.5 million euros is provided by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
  • “Leadership for Syria” is coordinated by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
  • The socio-political accompanying programme is organised by the University of Konstanz and led by Professor Wolfgang Seibel, professor of politics and public administration. 
  • The approximately 200 Syrian scholarship recipients taking part in the programme were recruited from 49 different universities.
  • The first two phases of the accompanying programme took place at the University of Konstanz in November 2016 and in March 2017.